Giant Killing 21 – Kubota Is a Showboata
lol red herring
Well, not quite. Part of Giant Killing‘s storytelling M.O. so far has been to tend toward one direction in a game, and then suddenly leap into a completely different direction, whether that is through a Tatsumi-employed tactic finally bearing fruit (followed by a flashback of Tatsumi drilling that tactic into his team), or a player whose impact on the game has been left to the background making his presence felt with a big play and changing the course of the match. In this episode, Kubota is the player who puts the game ever more out of ETU’s reach.
There is a lot of attention paid to other players before the match. Katayama and Hatake are loud, brash and demanding, always trying to butter up their teammates to increase their respective chances of getting more time with the ball during each game. Hauer is the big, imposing Dutchman; his look and presence makes him look like the obvious centerpiece of the team. But all of that seems to mask Kubota, who is a much more subtly integral part of the team than anyone — aside from Tatsumi, of course — appears to realize.
The big question with Kubota was whether he had the chops to shoot the ball . . . or, at least, that is how Giant Killing wanted the question to appear. In reality, as the flashbacks show, there really was no question at all; his skills make him born to play his position. It might come off as a bit weird and cheap to have a seemingly awkward introvert like Kubota suddenly becoming assertive and excitable, but it actually plays on the audience expectations of his character pretty damn well.
What do we really know about Kubota before this episode? We see a few awkward interactions with teammates and some supposedly hesitant moments when passing (when, really, he is probably instantaneously scanning the field for the best possible pass), so he is therefore subservient to his teammates and only exists to set them up. (Although I bet those watching the series who are more experienced with the beautiful game than I am probably expected Kubota to break out sooner or later.)
The audience is thrust directly into the role of Sugie this episode. He is charged with keeping up with Kubota and quickly learns how dangerous and unpredictable Kubota is, and how easily he is able to set up his teammates with his excellent passing. However, Sugie, perhaps like the audience, assumes a few too many things about Kubota and takes his eyes off him once Kubota has made a solid pass to Hatake. He has already given up the ball — what more can he do to hurt ETU? And that’s where the mistake of thinking about Kubota as simply a passer bites Sugie and ETU in the ass.
Kubota really is a different person when he is on the hunt for a goal. The only reason he probably did not assert himself earlier in the game is because Sugie stuck to him enough to where it was simply a better choice for Kubota to give up the ball and create better scoring opportunities that way than to try and force something to open up. But the moment he sees Sugie’s attention drifting, it’s off to the races for Kubota. Sugie doesn’t see it coming at all, and the audience is probably meant to see it coming with just enough time to go, “Oh no!” before Kubota dashes away, gets into position and scores the goal. Osaka – 2, ETU – 0.
I’m looking forward to the response from ETU next week. From the little bit in the preview, it doesn’t seem as if they’re falling apart, but the team is definitely shaken. But Tatsumi is as confident as ever, of course — really, he has to be, or else ETU would be completely sunk. There was a bit of headway at the end of the first half when ETU actually managed to make it to the other side of the field (although they still didn’t get a shot off), but that was really more out of desperation than anything. Tatsumi probably has a way to channel that desperation into decent changes, though.
I wonder if Gino will be able to pick up his play soon, too. Clearly he’s not nearly as confident as usual, even if he makes a good show of things by trying to encourage everyone in his own weird way after the initial goal.